Fish Have No Feet
2018 Longlist

Fish Have No Feet

Translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton
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ABOUT
THE BOOK

Keflavik: a town that has been called the darkest place in Iceland, surrounded by black lava fields, hemmed in by a sea that may not be fished. Its livelihood depends entirely on a U.S. military base, a conduit for American influences that shaped Icelandic culture and ethics from the 1950s to the dawning of the new millennium.

It is to Keflavik that Ari – a writer and publisher – returns from Copenhagen at the behest of his dying father, two years after walking out on his wife and children. He is beset by memories of his youth, spent or misspent listening to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, fraternising with American servicemen – who are regarded by the locals with a mixture of admiration and contempt – and discovering girls. There is one girl in particular he could never forget – her fate has stayed with him all his life.

Fish Have No Feet is at once the story of a singular family and an epic of Icelandic history and culture. It offers an unique insight into modern Iceland, and the ways in which it has been shaped by outside influences. A sparkling novel of love, pain, loss and lifelong desire that marries the poetic, elemental style of Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels and The Heart of Man to a modern frame of reference and sensibility.

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Jón
Kalman Stefánsson

Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s novels have been nominated three times for the Nordic Council Prize for Literature and his novel Summer Light, and then Comes the Night received the Icelandic Prize for Literature in 2005. In 2011 he was awarded the prestigious P.O. Enquist Award. He is perhaps best known for his trilogy – Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels (longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize) and The Heart of Man (winner of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize) – and for Fish Have No Feet (longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017

Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s novels have been nominated three times for the Nordic Council Prize for Literature and his novel Summer Light, and then Comes the Night received the Icelandic Prize for Literature in 2005. In 2011 he was awarded the prestigious P.O. Enquist Award. He is perhaps best known for his trilogy – Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels (longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize) and The Heart of Man (winner of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize) – and for Fish Have No Feet (longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Philip
Roughton

Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of Icelandic literature. He earned a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with specialties in medieval Icelandic, medieval Chinese, and Latin literature, and wrote his dissertation on medieval Icelandic translations of saints’ and apostles’ lives. He has taught modern and world literature at CU-Boulder, and medieval literature at the University of Iceland. His translations include works by many of Iceland’s best-known writers, including the Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Bergsveinn Birgisson, Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, and others. He was awarded the 2015 American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Competition Prize, for his translation of Halldór Laxness’ novel Gerpla (Wayward Heroes), the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize for 2016, for his translation of Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s The Heart of Man, and an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship for 2017.

Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of Icelandic literature. He earned a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with specialties in medieval Icelandic, medieval Chinese, and Latin literature, and wrote his dissertation on medieval Icelandic translations of saints’ and apostles’ lives. He has taught modern and world literature at CU-Boulder, and medieval literature at the University of Iceland. His translations include works by many of Iceland’s best-known writers, including the Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Bergsveinn Birgisson, Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, and others. He was awarded the 2015 American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Competition Prize, for his translation of Halldór Laxness’ novel Gerpla (Wayward Heroes), the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize for 2016, for his translation of Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s The Heart of Man, and an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship for 2017.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

Fish Have No Feet is the coming-of-age story of both protagonist Ari and the Icelandic nation as a whole, as exemplified by the claustrophobic and weather-beaten fishing town of Keflavik. Stefánsson has a masterful command of language, and the novel’s lyrical prose calls to mind the powers of the sea, from the stark and magnificent depths to the delicate beauty of spume on the waves.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
25/08/2016
Country
Iceland
Original Language
Icelandic
Publisher
MacLehose Press
Translator
Philip Roughton
Translation
Translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton

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